ID DJG_PT2 Article from Mersea Museum

TitlePublic Transport - the Omnibus
AbstractYear 1919 was a momentous time - Victory had been achieved, it was a time for rejoicing and thankfulness, but also sadness in many families. Of the some three hundred young men and women who had served in the Forces, barely two thirds returned to the village, 48 young men had died, and quiteDJG_PT3_001 a number settled down elsewhere. The return home was just a trickle at first, many poignant re-unions with parents and families were witnessed at the Railway Station and in the streets. St. Mary's Sunday School Concert was revived, the hit song was "The bells are ringing for me and my girl -" Gertrude Anthony was in the starring role and the supporting cast, girls in white frocks and the boys in white tennis shirts, flannels and straw boaters, made a very gay and colourful display. Employment in the village was difficult, many of the young men who had returned had to seek work elsewhere. Messrs. Drake Bros' shipyard was crowded with laid-up yachts, as were the mud-berths, some yachts were never re-claimed by their owners and gradually disintegrated over the years. Ready restoration to peace-time conditions was a slow process. The visit of Capt. Edward Sycamore, who had been brought up by the Myall family, and apprenticed in their smack "SWH", accompanied by some of the well known yacht skippers of Colneside, brought some hope of employment to the many young jerseyed men around The Square, but very few yachts fitted out that year and many were disappointed - it was not entirely a land fit for heroes. One of the highlights of the year, was the first visit since the war, of Mr. Frederick E. Hasler of New York, who was visiting members of his family in the village. It soon became known that he had purchased a field of 12 acres from Mr Arthur French, adjoining the Parish Room, to be laid out as the Victory Recreation Ground. It was surprising to know the number of men in the village who claimed his friendship and had shared his school days at Tollesbury.

The "Victory" or "Peace Day Parade" which took place in mid-summer was the most spectacular ever, eclipsing the Jubilee Parade of 1897 the many floats and tableaux of Great War events being horse-drawn or hand propelled. The event was staged by the various organisations of the village, including the Buffaloe Lodges. James Collins and Ralph Frost were splendid "John Bulls" and one beautiful young woman portrayed "Nurse Cavell". The effigy of the Kaiser was burned on the huge bonfire on the to be "Recreation Ground" and I retrieved his sword next morning. Sporting events took place on Parson's Meadow.

Quietly during these preceding months, a most crucial thing was happening, which was to alter the whole pattern of life in the village, the construction and inauguration of the first motor omnibus in Tollesbury. A photo taken at the time depicts, Mr. George W. Osborne, his friend and adviser Mr William S. Harrington, Mr. Maskell and his son, coachbuilders and wheelwrights, Mr. Eley, Mr. Maurice Rice and two or three Osborne juniors, standing round a smart little "T" model Ford, with wooden coach built structure on the chassis, Tollesbury's first 'bus. The 'bus was most elegant, resplendant in its coat of emerald green, trimmed with real gold leaf, and appropriately named "The Alpha" also proclaiming its ownership to "G.W. Osborne and Sons". The 'bus could seat twelve adult passengers, six ranged on bench seats on either side, with possibility of one or two privileged persons seated alongside the driver at the front. Mr. and Mrs. Osborne had a family of eleven, seven boys four girls, and practically from the start all assisted in the business. Reg was the first driver, and on the demobilisation of Jim from the R.N.A.S., he too took part, succeeded by Fred, and eventually by Joe and Gilbert. Leslie emigrated and Ken entered business in London, but eventually returned and drove for the firm.

Of the daughters, Ivy and Molly, are the most popularly known and still take an active part and interest in this splendid example of local enterprise. From the onset the 'bus service was further extended, with other vehicles, notably "The Favourite" which could accommodate 24 adults. The success of Mr Osborne's venture induced other transport firms to commence operations from Tollesbury to Colchester, but their endeavours were short lived, as the majority of the villagers remained loyal to the local firm, and although there was some "poaching" and "juggling with, time tables" leading to altercation between the drivers, the matter was eventually resolved by national legislation and transport regulations.

In the early days the 'buses were garaged at Mr. Osborne's stables in New road, where to-day a fine commodious garage, with very modern appliances and equipment have been provided to cope with the cleaning, maintenance and servicing of some fifty 'buses and coaches, of all descriptions. The most successful features of the business, so far as the travelling public is concerned, are the shopping excursions, continental and holiday tours, "mystery" tours in the summer season, and the ever popular "football supporters" journeys in aid of the Colchester United football team. Since 1921 the firm has had to provide school 'buses and have often been called upon to provide transport for Ministry of Defence and crews for ships.

To-day G.W. Osbcrne and Sons can be very proud of the fact that in the past sixty years they have built up one of the finest privately owned omnibus and coach hire firms in the country. The villagers are most appreciative of the excellent service combined with kindliness and courtesy, which has been the key-note of the firm, since horse-drawn carrier days, and long may it continue.

AuthorDouglas J. Gurton
Published18 January 1979
SourceMersea Museum / Cedric Gurton
IDDJG_PT2
Related Images:
 The Square and Church, Tollesbury. Postcard from Bell's No. 2067.
 Osborne's Bedford Duple buses HG5343 and GVW591.
HG 5343 was bought January 1940 and left service January 1961.
GVW 591 was bought new November 1938 and left service October 1958.  CG10_015
ImageID:   CG10_015
Title: The Square and Church, Tollesbury. Postcard from Bell's No. 2067.
Osborne's Bedford Duple buses HG5343 and GVW591. HG 5343 was bought January 1940 and left service January 1961. GVW 591 was bought new November 1938 and left service October 1958.
Date:1950s
Source:Mersea Museum / Cedric Gurton Tollesbury
 The Square, Tollesbury. Osborne's bus waiting with a Witham service, JVX806, a Bedford with a Duple wartime utility body, including wooden slatted seats. JVX 806 was new May 1945 and ended service October 1958.  CG2_045
ImageID:   CG2_045
Title: The Square, Tollesbury. Osborne's bus waiting with a Witham service, JVX806, a Bedford with a Duple wartime utility body, including wooden slatted seats. JVX 806 was new May 1945 and ended service October 1958.
Date:1950s
Source:Mersea Museum / Cedric Gurton Tollesbury


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